Drawing and painting have never been strong talents of mine. I believe I’m a creative person but throughout my life, have never been able to use a pencil or art brush to create pictures worth hanging on the wall. Maybe that is why I drifted towards photography instead, because it seems like all the work is done for you.
The eagerness for artistic creativity has always been there though, so when I saw a Facebook page, advertising Turkish Painting Holidays, I signed up straight away and in June of this year, packed my bags and headed off to the small village of Gokcebel, near Yalikavak on the Bodrum peninsula of Turkey.
Arriving at the Old Stone Cottage
Walking through the wooden gate of the old stone cottage was a surprise since none of it can be seen from the street. Behind the old brick walls, was a huge garden overflowing with scented flowers and trees, a paved pergola area, a swimming pool neatly tucked away in the corner and following a cobbled path, I came to the artists corner, overflowing with easels, canvases and boxes of acrylic, oil and watercolour paints.
All of this surrounded the quaintest renovated 200-year old stone cottage that has keep as much of the original architecture as possible.
Combined with all traditional décor and modern facilities such as Wi-Fi and satellite TV, my room was on the upper floor overlooking the courtyard.
Leaving my luggage in the room, I made my way downstairs because it was a swap over day so last week’s guests were leaving as others arrived.
I was relieved to meet 3 of the other guests like me, women travelling alone while the last to arrive were an adventurous and easy-going couple who had interesting talking point of their pets that were alpacas.
Linda, the wife, who also had a contagious laugh, painted for a hobby and during the week, I came to the conclusion that she could easily create exceptionally good pieces of art yet continued to berate and criticize her own work at every turn.
Her husband Roy, had no interest in painting, but still joined in all the excursions and often did the coffee run while we all perfected our still-life art or finished off our landscape pictures from the day before.
Altogether there were 6 people in our group and despite being the only beginner, I was optimistic about the week ahead. Everyone had their own character, level of experience and preference of medium whether it was watercolours, acrylic or oils but we all slipped easily into conversation and I firmly believe that I was in the right place at the right time.
The Tutors of the Painting Holiday
I smile when I think about the tutors because their style of painting strongly reflected their character.
Sandra is an expert in watercolours, a medium that requires the gentle touch, soft pastel colours and a steady hand with strong eye for detail.
Likewise she is softly spoken, has a delicate demeanour but also pick-ups intricate detail in everyday objects that people like myself would never glance twice at. Having studied art at college, she also is a professional illustrator for printed books and specialises in wildlife art.
Eljay is a tutor but also the brainchild of the old stone cottage and the Turkish Painting Holidays. After living in the Bodrum area for many years, she renovated the cottage and then tapped into her art education and career history to carry on doing what she loves.
She multi-skills without batting an eyelid and organizes the daily agenda, shops, is the driver and cooks all the traditional Turkish food served for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
In between writing the cookbook that she has been commissioned for, she specialises in acrylic and oil painting that are extremely versatile, just like her. If no-one requires any help from her as a tutor, she whips up an easel, gets out her palette, and much like Sandra, conjures up a masterpiece with no effort whatsoever.
The Painting Itinerary for the Week
Even though this was a painting holiday with expert tutors on hand, a relaxing agenda was laid on. People could opt in or out of activities as they wanted. One day was spent drawing and painting at the ancient ruins of Iasos. At this stage, I had figured out that drawing was not coming easy to me, so I opted to sit in a restaurant and paint seascapes instead.
On another day, we headed to a traditional village in the mountains where we met the crazy muhtar (village head) who just the week before had fallen off a roof and broke his arm after drinking too much Raki. He walked us around the village for painting ideas and took us into traditional homes, to see local women making carpets and then cooked us a rooftop BBQ!
Alternatively, guests could go on boat trips, walk around nearby Yalikavak or head off on their own to paint whatever they wanted.
So How Did I Do Regards Painting?
To be fair, I arrived as a complete beginner so please give me some lee-way when I say that I didn’t paint anything of good quality.
However, I learned a lot about depth, composition, drawing, various artists and their styles as well as different mediums of painting and before I left Bodrum, I went to the art store and bought paintbrushes, canvases and acrylic paints.
Arriving back home I still haven’t created anything that I would be proud to hang up on the wall.I think I might still be enamoured with the thought of just splashing paint onto canvas in any ad-hoc rhythm and it crossed my mind as to whether I was just basically crap at drawing and painting and should give it up.
I’m not going to for one simple reason. While drawing and painting, I get those Zen moments that I often talk about. The brief glimpses of time when you disconnect from the physiological clock that rules our daily lives. The moment, when you become so engrossed in what you do, that nothing else matters.
While staying at the old stone cottage, I spent four days disconnected from the Internet and it was a fantastic relief to de-hook. Back home, many afternoons have whizzed by as I sit on my balcony painting from photographs.
My belief is also backed up by science because this article says that art is actually good for you, and people should do it whether they are talented or not.
It would be nice if one day, I can post a painting on Facebook saying “look, what I did” but in the meantime, I am just happy with having an enjoyable hobby that makes me drop into the Zen moment.
Find out more about Turkish Painting Holidays in Bodrum
7 and 10 day stays are available for future years. Their website has lots of information about the area, the course, price and accommodation. You can also follow them on Facebook for updates about art, Turkey and the Bodrum Peninsula.